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Tim French led the Vikings program for 16 seasons, taking them to the state title game in 2014

North Kitsap head volleyball coach Tim French retired from coaching on Tuesday after making the announcement to administration and then players at their team banquet.

The Vikings qualified for the 2A state tournament last weekend where they went 1-2 and finished with a 19-4 overall record. French had led the program for 16 seasons, guiding the team to seven straight Olympic League championships, including this season, and winning nine out of the last 10 OL titles and 11 of the last 12. North went to state seven straight years as well and culminated with a second-place finish in 2014, a fifth-place trophy in 2003, and a seventh-place trophy in 2017. The 2014 and 2017 teams also won West Central District championships.

French finished with a career record of 473-194 for a winning percentage of .709 and was 269-100 at North Kitsap. He was also 149-5 in the Olympic League.

Taylor Clodfelder, right, listens to North Kitsap head coach Tim French, along with assistant Jim Vargas, during the Vikings' summer camp at North Kitsap High School. Clodfelder has only been playing for four years but is the Vikings starting middle blocker after swinging up from junior varsity last year. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)
Taylor Clodfelder, right, listens to North Kitsap head coach Tim French, along with assistant Jim Vargas, during the Vikings’ summer camp at North Kitsap High School in the summer of 2018. French resigned from his position earlier this week after 16 seasons. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

French said he had been thinking about the decision since the beginning of the season and knew he was getting close to retirement — he currently coaches PE at Poulsbo Junior High. He’ll be 60 in August.

“There’s just been a lot going on this fall that has helped me make the decision to do it now,” he said. “My father passed away, I want more time with family. “There’s things that need to be done. Coaching takes a lot of time and energy. I needed to free up more time to do things and see people that are important to me.

“It wasn’t easy, but for me, personally, it was the right thing.”

French said he is proud of the program — from the student-athletes to his coaching staff to the administration.

“I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish over the years,” he said. “So lucky to have talent come our way. Every year has been filled with talent. Can’t win without that. As I look back now I’ll think of all the quality players I had the pleasure to coach. I’ve just been really lucky.”

North Kitsap athletic director Matt Stanford said French’s mark on the program will be felt for a long time and when talking to him, Stanford never got the impression French was in coaching for wins.

“I think Tim’s ability to build a trusting relationship within the program so girls feel valued every single day is what helped fuel the team’s success,” Stanford said. “Tim put such a high value on the students as people and I think his reason was it would make them better players. I am sure there are shockwaves going through the NK volleyball community, past and present, because of Tim’s commitment to NK and these girls. I am sure Tim’s family will be happy to have him around next fall.”

French considers making it to the state tournament championship game in 2014 a highlight, but he valued the OL titles the most as those meant a lot to him as it was against local competition.

French, who credits his wife Kris with his success because of her support for his “ambition to play games for a living,” began coaching in 1984 as an assistant coach at Lind High School (he was also an English teacher) where they won the state championship. French then took the team back to the state title his first year as head coach. French, who also coached boys and girls basketball during his career, was successful wherever he went. He helped lead the Quilcene Rangers to the state tournament twice and won middle school titles while coaching in Kingston. 

North Kitsap coach Tim French talks to his team during a timeout during their match against Kingston Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, at North Kitsap High in Poulsbo. NK won 3-0.
(Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “Sports are fun. The best reality show. The drama is so intense and so real you can’t make it up.”

French admitted the hardest part of his decision was telling his players of his decision Monday night during the team banquet.

“ … They expressed to me that I had affected their lives beyond volleyball,” he said. “It’s why we get into coaching. Maybe we can have some kind of positive impact on the young lives. That was nice to hear. We do put a lot of time and effort in and it’s not all bout winning.”

NOTE: This story was updated to include comments from North Kitsap athletic director Matt Stanford after its original publication.

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